If there’s one problem I have trouble conveying in my writing it’s emotional expression. Sure there are opportunities in deep POV for these to occur but the question is how they should be expressed and appear in the story?
My characters sometimes read as too distant. If you have this same problem here’s some suggestions about editing for this problem.
I’ve started using the Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman to edit for deeper emotion. It’s a great resource to help you nail down your character’s actions and reactions, especially when trying to attain a deeper POV. It’s well organized and provides a wealth of information about particular emotions and how they may escalate into a stronger emotion as well. The book lists external and internal workings of emotion and long-term effects as well.
But how do I edit for it if this aspect is missing at some point where it should be present? Here’s my approach:
- Identify where it’s missing. I make a survey with comments where I find my POV character to be emotionally distant in my manuscript – clearly these are places where characterization is flat.
- Identify the emotion that may need to be shown. I add comments regarding what I think is the emotion that should be expressed with external or internal cues.
- Consult the Emotion Thesaurus. I look for that emotion and what relates to verify that my concept fits. Sometimes I find an similar emotional state that fits better, especially if there is an escalation building to a related emotion. Then I choose a sample the emotion is expressed and add it to my comments.
- Find a way to work that emotional expression into your story. Once the survey is complete I have a template of changes to make that allow me to see the arc of changes needed that – hopefully – follow the story-arc. I try to weigh what emotional cue to use – an external or internal reaction to circumstances. Sometimes more than one is needed for clarity, especially the deeper your POV. Combining these cues with internalization and dialogue should convey the character’s emotional state well.
- For further thought on characterization: See this blog post from M. Talmage Moorehead at Storiform.com.
I use the survey for a full short story but it can also be applied to an entire chapter at a time. The Emotion Thesaurus is teaching me many ways to creatively express emotion rather than simply stating it.
What method do you use for showing emotion in your writing? I’d love to hear from you so please leave a question, idea or strategy in the comment section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today!
P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.
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